Is your church Hong Kong ready?
The UK is about to welcome hundreds of thousands of people from Hong Kong. Simon Goddard explores how Baptists are responding, and what your church can do
The video above is a recording of an event hosted by Krish Kandiah on 28 January for churches across the UK helping them to know more about what is happening and how they can respond. Do take a look, as well as reading the article below for more information about how we as Baptists Together are planning to engage.
Last year the UK government made a pledge to the people of Hong Kong in the light of the clamp down following their pro-democracy demonstrations. That promise comes into effect at the end of this month and it is estimated that between 130,000 and 300,000 people from Hong Kong will be arriving in the UK over the next year.
This is expected to be the biggest planned migration of people to the UK from outside of Europe since Windrush, and a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the church to play its part in offering hospitality. After Covid-19 spread across the globe from Wuhan, the Chinese community in the UK have experienced shocking racism and abuse
, and there is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of previous generations and for the church to be proactive in witness and welcome.
While many of those arriving will be leaving Hong Kong as economic migrants there will some who will need to leave for their own safety. Indeed, some Baptists have been at the forefront of the pro-democracy protests, and early targets of the new security laws. This is not just an opportunity for us to offer hospitality, but also to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Indeed, if as Baptists Together we can be both welcoming to Baptist ministers needing to leave Hong Kong, as well as being centres of welcome for those arriving in our communities, we we’re likely to discover that this is also an opportunity to participate in the mission of God.
Although things are tough for all of us at the moment, and the Covid restrictions means there’s a lot to think about and a lot we can’t do at the moment, here is one opportunity to do something positive and hopeful. Baptists Together Mission Forum has already discussed how we might be able to facilitate and co-ordinate our response as a Baptist family, and here are some of the ideas that we’re beginning to work on:
Developing a network of churches in areas that already have a high Cantonese speaking population to help them prepare a local response;
Helping churches to welcome Baptist leaders who are looking to leave Hong Kong, perhaps enabling them to plant new Cantonese speaking congregations;
Working with smaller churches who might have a manse, but little resources for a stipend, who might benefit from the ministry of a pastor from Hong Kong (many of whom may speak good English) while they take on some ‘tentmaking’ employment locally.
Creating a network for these Hong Kong Baptist pastors as they arrive in the UK, linking them to local churches who would like to help them settle in and maybe subsequently benefit from their ministry in some way.
Working with BMS and the Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World to offer training and support for both churches and these ‘reverse missionaries’.
We’ve created a mailing list for those who would like to be part of our response and to be contacted directly as more details emerge. You can sign up here: http://bit.ly/hkbaptist21
A Zoom event took place on 28 January hosted by Dr Krish Kandiah to explore this “once-in-a-generation” opportunity further. A recording of the event can be found here, or at the top of the page.
I’ve been co-ordinating our response until now but hope that we might soon be able to release some funding to appoint someone part-time to take this further. It’s been so encouraging to see the positive engagement with this already and am looking forward to seeing how Baptists will once again creatively respond to the new thing God is doing in our midst.
Simon Goddard is one of the three Baptists Together Pioneer Ambassadors and Director of RiverTree, an organisation he set up in 2018 to catalyse, cultivate and collaborate to enable fruitfulness in the mission of God.
The fruit of recent collaborations include the Godsend app and the recently launched book 21st Century Christian: Following Jesus where Life Happens.
Simon is married to Lisa, and together they recently became a foster-parents to their 14 year old godson.